Friday, December 31, 2004

Pa. abuzz over Swann’s potential GOP candidacy

Pa. abuzz over Swann’s potential GOP candidacy
Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2004
By: Michael H. Cottman
While Lynn Swann considers a run for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006, there was talk Monday of whether the Republican sports icon could energize the electorate & become the state’s first viable black gubernatorial candidate in recent memory. “He’s leaning towards it,” Renee Amoore, deputy chairman of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania, told Amoore said she spoke with Swann last weekend about his political aspirations.
“I’m ecstatic that Lynn Swann is considering running for governor,” said Amoore, who is black. “He wants to be more involved in the party, & African-Americans are already asking what they can do to help.” Swann, 52, a former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers & a recent inductee in the NFL Hall of Fame, is exploring whether to challenge Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell in the 2006 election. It’s unclear if Swann is being drafted by Republicans or testing the waters on his own.
Although Swann is well-known as an analyst for ABC Sports, he’s a political enigma to most viewers & some Republicans. Last weekend, Swann attended an annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Society, a celebrated annual event where prominent Republican business leaders & power brokers gather to network and talk politics. “There were lines around him,” said Amoore, who attended the GOP gathering & spent time talking to Swann. “People wanted to meet him, get to know him, & get autographs, quite frankly.”
Amoore said many blacks say they’ll embrace Swann’s candidacy, in part because they’re disenchanted with Rendell & his relationship with some in the black community. She said it’s important to bring more diversity to the GOP & points to people like Michael Steele, the Maryland Lt. Governor & the first black elected to the statewide office, as success stories within the Republican Party. Swann, Amoore said, would make an outstanding governor.
“People are calling about Lynn Swann,” Amoore said. “There’s a buzz in our community.” A spokeswoman for Swann, Marlene Chodkowski, said Monday Swann wouldn’t make any public comments until he’s made a decision. “Lynn’s indicated that he’s considering running for governor. While a decision isn’t imminent, he’s discussing the issue with family, friends, & political leaders…,” Chodkowski said in a statement. Josh Wilson, a spokesman for the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania, said there’s genuine excitement about Swann.
Though many describe Swann as “bright” & “articulate,” Wilson acknowledged that the party as a whole doesn’t know much about Swann’s politics or where Swann stands on critical social issues. At least one black Republican strategist said Swann is known as a fiscal conservative. “Rumors are swirling, but we’re still in the early stages,” Wilson said Monday. “I’m sure we’ll learn more if he decides to move forward.”
Swann made his first high-profile entry into politics this summer as part of the 61-member African-Americans For Bush National Steering Committee during President Bush‘s re-election campaign. Swann, a newcomer to national politics, traveled the country stumping for Bush, often times asking black Democrats to join the GOP.
In August, Swann told that blacks should examine the Bush administration‘s record on job creation & the economy. Swann said then that he was supporting the Republican Party because he feels the GOP can best serve the interest of blacks. “I have an opportunity to present the facts & talk about what the President’s administration has done for the African-American community,” Swann said in an interview. “We talk about freedoms for African-Americans but unless you have more than one option politically, how free are you?’’ said Swann. “We may not change minds, but the information needs to get out there so people can make informed decisions.’’
To help bridge the gap between Bush & minorities, Swann said he’d serve as a messenger for Bush’s agenda. “This president has always believed in the diversity of this country,’’ Swann said in the interview. “He didn’t get the African-American vote in 2000 but he still put African-American people in key positions in his Cabinet because he thought it was the right thing to do.’’ Republicans say high-profile black Republicans in Pennsylvania, & nationally, are hard to find, but celebrities like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger & former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura can help energize voters.
“It’s exciting,” Wilson said. “Someone of Lynn Swann’s stature can invigorate the party & I think it shows that Gov. Rendell is vulnerable.” But others believe Rendell would be a formidable opponent & would be difficult to unseat. As a Democrat, Rendell has enjoyed some success working with a Republican-controlled Legislature.
In the meantime, Swann has called several Pennsylvania GOP officials to let them know of his interest in the gubernatorial race. “He brings a lot to the table,” Amoore said of Swann. “He’s a businessman, he understands economic development, he’s got experience working with President Bush on the national level & he’s a quick study. I think he can bring this state together. I’m excited about the possibilities.”
Mark my words on this: If Lynn Swann runs for governor in PA against Ed Rendell, Rendell will be up against it bigtime. Swann has numerous advantages going into the fight, namely near total name recognition amongst PA voters, I'd have to think that his favorable to unfavorable ratings would be nearly through the roof, he'd have substantial fundraising ability & he's articulate. In other words, an incumbent like Rendell's worst nightmare.
Also, think of how difficult it'd be for Rendell to run a negative campaign against Mr. Swann, especially if Swann runs as an upbeat, articulate outsider.
Lastly, think of how many African-American votes he'd win over in Philadelphia, one of Rendell's biggest areas of support.

Sound Politics Uncovers Massive Vote-Counting Problems

Stefan Sharkansky of Sound Politics blog filed this report today:
December 31, 2004
Total Meltdown in King County Voter List
It was last reported that there were 3,539 more ballots counted in King County than voters who cast them. The discrepancy is actually much larger.
The 3,539 is only the net. This comes from having roughly 1,500 more voters than counted ballots in some precincts & about 5,000 more ballots than known voters in other precincts.

Based on this information, it's safe to say that the election results are badly tainted if not totally discredited already. It also suggests that vote fraud was committed on a fairly large scale in Ukraine County (AKA Kings County, WA).

[This picks up where I left off in the post below about Precinct 3301. I can find only 41 precinct changes among counted voters in the Dec. 29 file since the Nov. 1 file & these appear to be provisional voters who corrected their precincts at the polls. Conclusion: in certain precincts there are about 1,500 more known voters who cast ballots that were accepted than there are ballots that were counted in the manual recount.]

Based on Shark's extensive research, isn't it safe to conclude that the results certified by the canvassing board are disgustingly fraudulent & should be uncertified immediately? It seems to me that this manual recount was nothing more than an attempt to find enough scraps of paper, regardless of the validity of the 'vote', to get 'Ms. Fraudoire' elected. As such, the Washington Secretary of State should rescind his certification of the results & the Republican party of Washington should file a lawsuit with Washington's State Supreme Court to get the hand recount thrown out.

Bob Williams of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation brought to my attention several sections of the WAC that govern the canvassing boards. As I read the WACs, the King County canvassing board shouldn't have certified its election without getting the count of voters to reconcile with the count of ballots, & that's something that they obviously haven't done.

I suspect that this would be another basis for appealing the 'fraud results' as certified by the KGB canvassing board. I'm not a lawyer but it sure sounds like it should be grounds.

Among these: WAC 434-262-040
Verification of auditor's abstract of votes. The county canvassing board shall examine the auditor's abstract of votes and shall verify that all of the individual precinct and absentee ballot totals have been included in the abstract and that the subtotals and county-wide totals for registered voters and votes cast are an accurate reflection of the sum of those individual precinct and absentee ballot totals.
[See the other sections in chapter 434-262 for related rules].
I suspect that the canvassing board simply checked the total number of registered voters on the rolls & not the number of voters who cast ballots. But that would be terribly lame if that's all they think they're required to do.
In any case, I'd be very surprised if King County will be able to account for both 1,500 ballotless voters & 5,000 voterless ballots. The few explanations that have been offered, confidential voters & military voters, only account for about 100 & at most 200 voterless ballots respectively.

At best, this is proof of shoddy canvassing (not likely) & illegal vote stealing at worst (highly likely). These results should be thrown out ASAP by Washington's State Supreme Court & recanvass ordered of Ukraine County MINUS THE 5,000 DISPUTED BALLOTS.

Based on Fraudoire's getting roughly 60% of the vote in Kings County, that, roughly speaking, Ms. Fraudoire would have 3,000 votes subtracted from her total while Mr. Rossi would have 2,000 subtracted from his totals, a net gain for Mr. Rossi of 1,000 votes.

Furthermore, since Ms. Fraudoire's 'victory margin' after the manual recount was 129 votes, a net gain of approximately 1,000 votes by Mr. Rossi would give him a victory margin of almost 900 votes. Sounds about right with me.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

GOP's Midterm Election Strategy???

It won't be long before the U.S. legislature opens for business & some meaty issues will be debated. Judicial nominees will get an up or down vote or will be filibustered. Social Security reform will get debated in committee & possibly passed onto the floor for up or down votes. Make no mistake, conservatives. These are issues that might impact the U.S. for the next generation.
Almost as important as how our senators vote is how bloggers & Senatorial candidates like Mark Kennedy use their votes in their upcoming campaigns. When Sen. Dayton votes against reforming Social Security because he's against private accounts, will Rep. Kennedy ask why Dayton's against it for his constituents while Dayton reaps the rewards of that very thing as part of his Senate retirement account? If he's the candidate I think he is, he'll use it in every stump speech he makes. When Sen. Dayton fillibusters a judicial nominee, calling him unqualified or labeling him as outside the mainstream (liberal code for pro life), will Kennedy & other aspiring GOP senate candidates run ads asking why that judicial nominee is outside the mainstream? If Mssrs. Rove, Mehlman & Bush have anything to say about it, you can bet on it.
Undoubtedly, there'll be alot of heated debate on judicial nominees & Social Security reform. When debating Social Security, I'd use the Senate's own retirement plan as a good reason why this should be an option for everyone, not just the rich & powerful in the U.S. Congress.

Yanukovych's Appeal Rejected in Ukraine

Yanukovych's Appeal Rejected in Ukraine
By Aleksandar Vasovic, Associated Press Writer
KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine's election commission rejected the entire appeal by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych against results showing he lost this week's repeat running, saying he hadn’t proved there were any mass violations, a commission member said. Yanukovych will now appeal to the Supreme Court, said his campaign manager, Taras Chornovyl.
The prime minister has refused to accept results showing a solid victory for Western-leaning opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko in Sunday's vote. That balloting was a repeat of a Nov. 21 race between the two men in which a Yanukovych victory was thrown out by the Supreme Court because of widespread fraud.
"We’ll call on our supporters, which are 15 million, not to split the state, to observe the law & not to recognize Yushchenko as a legitimate president," Chornovyl said. Yanukovych had submitted 27 volumes of complaints to the commission, claiming at least 4.8 million people, mainly disabled & sick, were deprived of their right to vote by election reforms introduced after the first run-off.
"Evidence submitted in the claim doesn’t prove mass violations" & couldn’t "influence or effect the results of the vote," said commission member Marina Stavniychuk, reading from the CEC's decision. The final count by the commission shows Yushchenko winning over Yanukovych with a margin of some 2.3 million votes, but the results can’t be deemed final until all appeals are exhausted.

Exporting the Ukraine Miracle

One of the most inspiring events of 2004 happened on the last weekend of the year: the election of pro-Western democrat Viktor Yushchenko, who had to overcome everything from poisoning to voter fraud in order to claim the presidency of Ukraine. The triumph of the Orange Revolution should dispel the quaint notion still prevalent in many Western universities & foreign ministries that democracy is a luxury good suitable only for rich countries with a tradition of liberalism stretching back centuries.
The fact that democracy is still a "quaint notion" anywhere is perverse. That it's thought of as something only rich countries with the right pedigree is even more appalling. I'd suggest that countries ruled by despots are far more likely to yearn for real freedom & more willingly accepting of democracies.
Ukraine fits no one's criteria of a promising democracy: Its per capita income of $5,400 a year is lower than Algeria's or Turkmenistan's; it has a history of despotism & corruption & a short history of independence. The only less-likely democracy is Afghanistan. Yet Ukraine, like Afghanistan, held free elections this year. Apparently no one bothered to tell the people of these countries that they weren't ready for freedom.
Thank God they weren't told that they weren't ready for democracy. Isn't it amazing what decisions people make when they're given the freedom to make their own decisions?
These revolutions reveal the hollowness of the cliché that "democracy can't be imposed by outsiders." True, but outsiders can help committed democrats overcome internal obstacles. Sometimes, when dealing with an entrenched dictatorship, this requires military intervention of the kind that occurred in Iraq & Afghanistan. More brittle regimes can be brought down by their own people, but even they often need a little external shove.
In Ukraine, the U.S. government spent $58 million on democracy promotion in the last two years. European states & various nongovernmental organizations, such as George Soros' International Renaissance Foundation, contributed millions more. These donations raised the ire of anti-democrats like Vladimir Putin & Pat Buchanan, who conveniently overlooked the far more generous support given to Yushchenko's opponent, Viktor Yanukovich, by Moscow & Kiev.
There was nothing nefarious about the U.S. intervention in Ukraine, which was designed to promote democracy, not any particular candidate. A quick glance at its website shows that the National Endowment for Democracy handed out grants such as $399,968 for trade union education, $50,000 to conduct monthly public opinion surveys, $32,000 to train secondary school teachers & $50,000 to maintain a website that analyzes Ukrainian media. Pretty innocuous stuff, but it can have a powerful effect in a closed society.
For instance, the American Bar Association spent $400,000 to train Ukrainian judges in election law. Among those who attended its seminars were five judges of the Ukrainian Supreme Court who voted to overturn the fraudulent results of the Nov. 21 balloting & to hold the revote that led to Yushchenko's triumph.
A special note should be taken here. This was a private expenditure, not a governmental expenditure. The benefit it provided is obvious already & should yield ever-growing results in years to come.
NATO has also spent a good deal of money to train Ukrainian officers over the last decade as part of its Partnership for Peace initiative. This Western education, which includes instruction in human rights, was one reason why the Ukrainian military refused to move against pro-democracy demonstrators. Notwithstanding the Dec. 26 election, the Orange Revolution is hardly complete. The West should offer expedited NATO & EU membership to consolidate democracy in Ukraine.
Here's something worth noting to conservatives: an example of good government spending that's paid huge dividends already.
SIDENOTE: Can anyone picture what would've happened in Kyiv this year had Ronald Reagan's policies not toppled the former Soviet Union?
In the meantime, we need to apply elsewhere the lessons of Ukraine, which are also the lessons of Georgia, Serbia, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Poland, Lithuania & other countries where despotic regimes have been toppled since the original "people power" revolution swept the Philippines in 1986. An obvious candidate for a similar transformation is Iran.
Even as Iranian students have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest against their oppressors, & Iranian exiles in Los Angeles have beamed TV & radio programming into their homeland, the U.S. government has largely stood on the sidelines. In 2003, the National Endowment for Democracy supported 23 programs in Ukraine worth $1.9 million. In Iran there were only two pitiful programs worth $55,000. This disparity, which also exists for other pro-democracy groups, is perverse because the Iranian regime poses a far bigger threat to the West than Ukraine ever did. (The Ukrainians actually sent troops to join the coalition in Iraq, while the Iranians are trying to sabotage our efforts there.)
It's hard to think of a higher priority than the overthrow of the mullahs, who are determined to add nuclear weapons to their arsenal of terror. If we're serious about liberating Iran, & that's a big "if" because regime change isn't official Bush policy, we'll need to rethink the current sanctions regime, which hasn't done anything to dislodge the mullahocracy.
The Committee on the Present Danger, a hawkish advocacy group, suggests keeping some sanctions while reestablishing diplomatic ties & lowering barriers for cultural exchanges. The resulting access could be used to help the forces of freedom in Iran. Democracy in Iran? Sounds improbable, doesn't it? But so, until just a few weeks ago, did democracy in Ukraine.
Democracy is far more possible in far more places than the scholars think possible. Simply put, God planted the seed of liberty in everyone's soul from the beginning. To think that it's just for people whom the elites deem ready for it isn't historically supported.

Tsunami Death Toll Rockets to 114,000

Tsunami Death Toll Rockets to 114,000
By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - The death toll from last weekend's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe rose to more than 114,000 on Thursday as Indonesia uncovered more & more dead from ravaged Sumatra island, where pilots dropped food to remote villages still unreached by rescue workers.
A false alarm that new killer waves were about to hit sparked panic in India, Sri Lanka & Thailand.
The increase came after Indonesia reported nearly 28,000 newly confirmed dead in Sumatra, which was closest to the epicenter of last weekend's massive earthquake & was overwhelmed by the tsunami that followed. Some 60 percent of the Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra was destroyed, the U.N. children's agency estimated, & the island's northwest coast, lined with villages, was inundated.
The new count brought Indonesia's death toll to around 80,000, the worst hit nation, followed by Sri Lanka, India & Thailand.
I know that many of you started praying when you first heard about this disaster but I'm formally asking all of you to pray for the many people who've been affected by this disaster. I'm also asking you to pray that the health epidemic that many drs. are worried about won't happen or, at worst, they'll be few & quickly contained. Pray, too, that the reconstruction, not just of infrastructure like roads & businesses goes well but that human lives & family lives are put back together with God's grace.

Saddam Adds Ramsey Clark to Defense Team

CNN Headline news is reporting tonight that former Johnson administration Attorney General Ramsey Clark has agreed to join his defense team. I can't say that I'm shocked because of Mr. Clark's history for making outrageous anti-American statements. That said, I'd be lying if I said I didn't find Mr. Clark's actions highly offensive.
I'd put his anti-Americanism on a level with Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, which is saying alot.
Just when I think that Carter & his administration can't be more of an American embarassment, I'm proven wrong by ultra left wing idiots like Mr. Clark.
UPDATE: Here's the story:

Lawyer: Ex-Attorney General to Aid Saddam
Dec. 29, 2004
AMMAN, Jordan - The head of Saddam Hussein's legal team said Wednesday that he’s enlisted the aid of former U.S. Attorney Ramsey Clark in the fallen dictator's defense. Ziad al-Khasawneh said Clark was asked to help with the case after Saddam told his Iraqi lawyer last week to convey his regards to the former U.S. official.
Clark's law office in New York City declined to comment on the report & said Clark was scheduled to be out of the country until next week. Clark, who served as attorney general under the late President Lyndon Johnson for three years in the 1960s, is a staunch anti-war opponent who's met Saddam several times over the last 15 years. He was considered a friend of Iraq under Saddam when the U.N. slapped an embargo on Baghdad following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Khasawneh said Clark met with members of the defense team Tuesday in Jordan. Iraq's deputy prime minister told reporters in Baghdad Wednesday that Saddam's trial will likely start at the beginning of 2005. Saddam was arraigned in a Baghdad court in July on charges of war crimes & genocide.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Yushchenko Picks Ally as Next Ukrainian PM

Kiev, Ukraine
Dec. 30, 2004
(UPI) -- Ukrainian President-elect Viktor Yushchenko has said he plans to select political ally Yulia Tymoshenko as his prime minister, Interfax-Ukraine reported.
"There's a protocol under which my parliamentary group (representing his Our Ukraine party) & I are to use our resources to mobilize support by my parliamentary group for the candidate Yulia Volodymyrivna (Tymoshenko)," Yushchenko told reporters Wednesday in Kiev.
The current prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, told a news conference Wednesday he doesn't intend to step down. "I won't resign. It's a matter of principle," he said. Yanukovych lost to Yushchenko in Sunday's rerun presidential election.
Tymoshenko, 44, who holds a doctorate in economics, was elected to Parliament in 1996, 1998 & 2002. She was deputy prime minister from 1999 to 2001 while Yushchenko was prime minister.
President Leonid Kuchma fired her in January 2001 for allegedly forging customs documents & smuggling Russian natural gas while she was the president of a private natural gas company in the mid-1990s. She was arrested in February 2001 but was released & cleared of charges a few weeks later.
Tymoshenko is considered to be among the wealthiest people of Ukraine.
It looks like President-Elect Yushchenko will have to deal with an obstinant & (hopefully) outgoing Prime Minister Yanukovych as one of the first things on his agenda. I wish him the best of luck with ousting Yanukovych.
Related Yushchenko Administration Policy Update:
Kiev, Ukraine
Dec. 29, 2004
Ukraine's new president will give higher priority to developing closer relations with Europe than with Russia, one of his top aides said Wednesday. Viktor Yushchenko, who decisively won Sunday's rerun of second round presidential election against incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, will abandon current President Leonid Kuchma's "multi-sided" foreign policy to concentrate on integrating Ukraine with the 25-nation European Union, the head of Yushchenko's election headquarters, Alexander Zinchenko said according to Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
"I'm convinced that the notion of being multi-sided will cease to exist & it will be directed at European integration," Zinchenko told a news conference.
Zinchenko said priority will be achieving European living standards in Ukraine. "We should create such high living standards in Ukraine that Europe will think: why not admit Ukraine?" he said.
That should strike fear in Putin's mind. If this succeeds, the Russian people will want what the Ukraine has. That can't be good for Putin.
For that reason, President Bush should invite Iyad Allawi, Hamid Karzai & Viktor Yushchenko as his guests for the State of the Union Address. I can't think of a better way to elevate these champions of democracy, can you?

Jimmy Carter's Busy Year

Georgia congressman Charlie Norwood penned a blistering appraisal of Jimmy Carter's year in review for the Washington Times. Here's some of my personal highlights.

Fellow Georgian & former President Jimmy Carter has had a busy past few months. And I'm not even referring to his 80th birthday celebrated this past October. His hectic run really started back in August, when the former president's international good-government group, the Carter Center, served as an election monitor in the recall referendum of Fidel Castro's good buddy & Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Of course, this is the same Hugo Chavez who has weakened democracy in Venezuela to an almost non-functioning level, who verbally trashes President Bush & our nation at every opportunity, & who despicably & routinely allows his military henchmen to fire on & coldly kill Venezuelan demonstrators who oppose his dictatorial-leaning ways.
Sounds like a Latin American Saddam, doesn't it?
So, when the recall referendum concluded, few were surprised that the election was marked by substantial anecdotal evidence of more Chavez shenanigans & bullying at the ballot box. And not many folks were stunned that Mr. Chavez claimed victory, despite an exit poll by a well-respected American polling firm forecasting his overwhelming recall. It proved to be wildly out of step with the "official" results (off by 30-plus percentage points). But what was unforeseen & shocking was Mr. Carter's reaction to all of this.
Just one day after the Venezuelan recall referendum (which, in addition to numerous voting irregularities, saw the shooting death of one woman & injury to several others), Mr. Carter turned a blind eye to what had just transpired & endorsed the highly suspect returns. While Mr. Chavez gleefully called the tumultuous election a "democratic fiesta," Mr. Carter chimed in by proclaiming it a "heroic performance" & saying that it was now "the responsibility of all Venezuelans to accept the results & work together for the future."
I guess that ignoring the shooting of women & the stealing of elections & the giving of thugs like Chavez political cover are just ways that Carter can feel important. To say that he's a national disgrace is understatement.

Using a national newspaper as his vehicle, Mr. Carter sent an open letter as a "loyal Democrat" to the senator, who also happens to be my constituent in Georgia's 9th District. It seemed Mr. Carter took great issue with Mr. Miller's decision to endorse President Bush & deliver the keynote address at this year's Republican National Convention. In one line, Mr. Carter said, "By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you’ve betrayed our (loyal Democrats') trust." Wow. That's pretty strong language coming from someone who’d just given the wink & nod to Fidel Castro's Venezuelan protégé. Apparently, watering down a strategic nation's democracy is A-OK in Mr. Carter's book, but breaking ranks with "loyal Democrats" is an unforgivable offense.
It seems as though Mr. Carter has finally gone off the deep end. He used to be called the "greatest ex-president" because of the work he did with Habitat for Humanity & some pro-democracy causes. Now, though, he's seen as an old fool providing political cover for the world's worst tyrants, from North Korea to Venezuela to the Middle East. Sadly, this wasn't the last of Mr. Carter's indictments of the U.S.
Fresh off of pummeling Mr. Miller in print, Mr. Carter turned his attention & angst toward the state of Florida & the then-upcoming national election. Among other things, Mr. Carter wrote, "The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are internationally certified to be transparent, honest & fair...With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida."
Thankfully, Mr. Carter's indictment of the 2004 electoral process in Florida proved to be unfounded, his dire prediction off base & the "scrutiny of the suspicious process in Florida" utterly unnecessary to say the least.
It seems like Carter hates anything involving Republicans winning elections fair & square but gives glowing praise & total approval to international thugs stealing elections. Nice, huh? With friends like Mr. Carter, who needs enemies?

Donald Luskin on Social Security Reform

The Lesson of ThriftPersonal accounts already work (which might be why the critics are so scared).
Critics of the Bush administration plan to reform Social Security with personal accounts have a seemingly endless supply of reasons why it can’t possibly work. You know the litany: It’s too risky. It’s too expensive. It’s too complicated.
The critics never mention that there’s already a government-administered retirement system that's shown for over 15 years that personal accounts are prudent, inexpensive, and simple. It’s the Thrift Savings Plan of the U.S. federal government, currently serving 3.3 million government employees.

Yesterday I posted some quotes from Florida Sen. Bob Graham on why he thought private accounts in the Social Security program wasn't a wise thing. He, like many other Democrats, stand opposed to the type of program that he's likely been investing in since 1987. Talk about hubris.

The years since Thrift was first offered in 1987 couldn’t make for a better laboratory to crash-test a personal-account system. During this period there have been both bull & bear markets that were among the most severe in history. Through year-end 2003, investments in Thrift personal accounts have earned $44.4 billion in profits for system participants, an average of more than $13,000 per participant.
Over time & on average, 65 percent of the value of Thrift participant accounts has been invested in a special money-market account operated by the U.S. Treasury. That’s been responsible for about $20.3 billion of the total investment gains. But almost as much, $19.8 billion, came from an S&P 500 Index fund. That’s remarkable because, on average, only 30 percent of the value of participant accounts has been invested in the S&P 500 fund.

It's aggravating to hear pols like Graham & new Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid rail against private accounts as part of Social Security reform legislation when they're getting that good of a return on such a simple, cost-effective system. Herein lies the problem for like-minded Dems: They'll trot out their emotional pleas to maintain the status quo while reporters like Mr. Luskin trot out impressive facts on how these accounts could benefit the masses.

This is a textbook lesson in why it makes sense to invest in equities. Even though they're riskier in the short-term, they have a higher expected return in the long-term. That’s why the S&P 500 fund has earned just about as much for Thrift participants as the plan’s money-market account, with only half the money invested.
Yes, after the bubble burst there were three difficult years for stocks, 2000, 2001, & 2002. In those bear-market years, Thrift participants overall lost money in their accounts, with losses in the S&P 500 fund overcoming gains in the money-market account (as well as the third fund tracking the Lehman). But the non-stock funds did well in those years, & 2003 was a great comeback year for stocks. (This year has been okay, too). So the least-lucky participants, those who started right at the top of the market in 2000, have already gotten back to even, on average, & those who started even a little earlier or a little later are solidly ahead.
How did Thrift participants react to the bear market? Not a bit like the scared rabbits that critics pretend the non-professional investors are. They didn’t dump right at the bottom; there were net redemptions from the S&P 500 fund in only 1 year, 2001. And when the market finally hit true bottom in the early spring of 2003, there were the biggest net contributions to the S&P 500 fund in Thrift’s history. Today, 43 percent of participant investments are in the S&P 500 fund (with another 10 percent in the other two stock funds).

Imagine that. People didn't panic like old-school pols claim. Instead, they know that, over the course of time, the funds will be replenished & then some. It seems to me that the riskier proposition is to keep all your money in a Social Security system that can't provide the type of yield that you'd get from investing in an equity fund.

And what about Enron? Don’t the critics always carp that gullible investors will lose their retirement fortunes in stocks, like Enron, that suddenly implode? Amazingly enough, any Thrift participant who invested in the S&P 500 Index fund did indeed invest in Enron, because Enron was a member of the S&P 500 Index until it was removed in late November, 2001 (after all the damage had been done). But Enron was only 1 of 500 stocks, so its risk was diversified away, just like the textbooks say.
The use of index funds has other advantages too, advantages that perfectly answer the critics of personal accounts. For one thing, index funds are simple to understand. Thrift started with one for stocks & one for bonds, about as simple as you can get. Two years ago Thrift added two more funds, one for smaller company stocks & another for non-U.S. stocks. Still, it’s so simple that even the most inexperienced investor can get it.

You can't simplify it more than that.
And index funds are cheap to operate. As I discussed in detail in my column last week
, investment management fees for index funds are ruinously small for the managers. And speaking of cheap, Thrift is a model of efficiency. Its administrative costs are only about six one-hundredths of 1 percent of invested assets. That compares especially favorably to Social Security, which has administrative costs that are more than five-times greater, even though you’d think its vast scale would lead to significant economies.
Index funds also have the advantage of being very resistant to meddling by government bureaucrats. Critics of personal accounts complain that any government-sponsored retirement system creates an irresistible temptation for politicians to guide participant dollars toward favored investments, or for politicians to grandstand by interfering with corporate governance. Indeed, all those things have happened in large pension plans sponsored by state governments. But there’s never been a whiff of it at Thrift. That’s because investment in simple index funds is clearly mandated in the legislation that created it,
it'd take an act of congress to permit a bureaucrat to funnel Thrift money into some pet investment.

Imagine that. The politicians were smart enough to put these pension funds off-limits from politicians' meddlings, unlike, say, Teamster pension funds from the 70's.

Ironically, the Thrift Savings Plan, a perfect model of the future of Social Security reform with personal accounts, was created as part of the last round of Social Security reform.

Ironic? I think it's undoubtedly the wisest decision some of these politicians have ever made.

Legislation passed in 1983 as part of the reforms recommended by the Greenspan Commission mandated for the first time that federal employees participate in the Social Security system. The idea was to force millions of new young participants to move back the day when the demographic time bomb threatening Social Security will inevitably explode. As you can imagine, federal employees weren’t thrilled, & Thrift was part of a complex package of adjustments designed to make them feel better about it.
The Thrift Savings Plan proves that there’s nothing too risky, too expensive, or too complicated about personal accounts for Social Security.

I can't argue that if I wanted to.

So what are the critics really worried about? I think they’re afraid that personal accounts are too empowering.


Once a nation of voters becomes a nation of empowered investors, there’s just no telling what kind of empowerment they’ll want next.
Donald Luskin is chief investment officer of Trend Macrolytics LLC,
an independent economics & investment-research firm.

Initial Volcker Report: Oil-for-Food Not to Blame

“Without question, [there were] problems in the oil-for-food area,'' Volcker said. “But when you look at those $10 billion figures, or $20 billion figures, most of those numbers are so-called smuggling, much of which was known & taken note of by the Security Council, but not stopped.''
The AP is reporting that former Fed Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker has issued the initial report on the Oil-for-Food Scandal. Among other things found in his report is his hair-splitting quote found at the start of this post where he says that the money grab wasn't from the OFF Scandal but happened before OFF. He's also quoted as saying that the U.N. Security Council knew about the "smuggling" & took note of it but didn't stop it.
HELLO!!! If you knew about it & you start a new program to monitor Iraq's oil sales, isn't it logical that you'd build a watchdog function into that new program??? It isn't exactly rocket science to think that you don't want a tyrant like Saddam skimming off billions of dollars intended to provide Iraqi citizens with basics like food, health care & nutrition. It's even more logical that you don't want him using that money to rebuild his army, secret police while building lavish palaces for himself & his sons Uday & Qusay.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Last Days of the Taliban?

That's a strange-sounding title to a Newsweek article but that's the question they ask in the article. I give the reporters a hat tip, too, in providing some proof that the Taliban might be weakening, too. I've copy/pasted a couple of those reports here. Here's the link for the article, too.

The Taliban leader told Shahzada, who was killed 10 days later in a friendly-fire incident, that he didn't want to hear about the rigors of his imprisonment. He said that the Taliban's so far unsuccessful fight to dislodge the Americans from Afghanistan was simply Allah's way of testing them. "Our jihad will be successful," he said. "We only have to fight harder & be patient." Then Mullah Omar turned his attention to rallying the troops. He urged the men not to be afraid of America's overwhelming military power. "You shouldn't be terrified of the U.S.'s aircraft, machines, technology & propaganda," he added.
That sounds like the rallying cry of someone who's losing badly & consistently. Anyone who has to rally the troops with a "jihad will be successful" comment isn't confident in his troops' ability to take it to their enemy.

Whether the two men were leaders or followers, the Taliban is in bad shape. October's successful presidential election was a stinging rebuke to their cause. Their oft-repeated, chilling threats to "attack" anyone who organized, registered for or voted in the contest proved hollow. Nearly 75 percent of registered voters, or 8.5 million Afghans, ignored the threats & cast ballots in the country's first-ever democratic poll, which was won easily by interim President Hamid Karzai. Even some Taliban fighters were seen voting. "There’s no question that the Taliban view the election as a defeat & a tremendous loss of face," says Barno. Adds Karzai: "The elections proved that the Taliban don't have a place among the people."
When you promise destruction but don't deliver, people start believing that you can't intimidate them anymore. Once that happens, a turning point is reached. When your attack threats not only don't materialize but Taliban actually vote in the election, then you can't be viewed as a potent force.

According to Barno, the battlefield calm reflects a sharp internal debate going on within the Taliban's senior leadership. One of the major questions, at least among the Taliban's more moderate elements, is whether the armed struggle should be abandoned. According to senior Afghan & U.S. military officials, there's solid evidence that "a number" of Taliban commanders are contemplating laying down their arms under an Afghan government amnesty program that has yet to be codified.
The plan would allow Taliban fighters & even commanders who haven’t been involved in egregious human-rights violations to return to a normal life without punishment if they lay down their weapons & agree to abide by the country's new Constitution. If it works, the amnesty offer could mark the beginning of the end of the bloody Taliban insurgency.
"The name of the game right now is this amnesty offer," says Pakistani author & noted Taliban expert Ahmed Rashid. He adds: "The most significant thing that's emerged over the past three years is that there's little or no public support for the Taliban's armed struggle."
Karzai & the U.S. would like to persuade moderate, former Taliban officials who’ve already been captured or have turned themselves in to join the political process. The presence of a credible former Taliban official in a position of power could act as a strong incentive for other Taliban to defect.
Granting amnesty to Taliban fighters who "haven't been involved in egregious human-rights violations" would be a tricky proposition from a security standpoint but it's worth trying. If this measure is accepted by even a sizeable amount of 'moderates', then that would have to demoralize the more hardcore Taliban & it might even provide a treasure trove of intel on al Qaeda & the Taliban remnant.
I don't want to suggest that the war against the Taliban & al Qaeda is over but this story proves that President Bush's strategy to take the fight to them is working. This article also proves that John Kerry's assertion that President Bush took his eye off the ball by going to war in Iraq isn't supported by the facts.

Rep. McDermott Subject of Ethics Investigation

Washington Rep. Jim McDermott is an ultra-liberal who constantly badmouths the US & doesn't believe that he is subject to the laws of the land. That's slowly coming to an end.
Rep. McDermott teamed with former House Democratic Whip David Bonior while on a trip to Iraq just before the war. He was quoted as saying that Saddam was more trustworthy than President Bush. That ought to speak volumes of what he thinks.
He also opposed HillaryCare because he thought the Canadian single-payer plan was superior to HillaryCare.
The following article is another 'lapse' of Rep. McDermott's ethical judgement.
House Committee to Investigate Rep. McDermott
Dec. 28, 2004
WASHINGTON – The House ethics committee will investigate Rep. Jim McDermott, D-WA, to determine whether he violated standards of conduct when an illegally recorded telephone conversation was leaked to reporters during a committee investigation.
Committee Chairman Joel Hefley, R-CO, & ranking Democrat Alan Mollohan (D-WV) formed a four-member investigative subcommittee Tuesday to investigate the 1997 incident. McDermott was ranking Democrat on the ethics committee at the time, & the panel was investigating the conduct of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-GA. The incident began when a Florida couple taped Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who was using his cell phone to discuss the case with other Republicans. The tape ended up in McDermott's hands & subsequently was leaked to reporters.
Boehner sued McDermott in federal court. U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan concluded earlier this year that McDermott was responsible for the leak & ordered the Washington lawmaker to pay Boehner for "willful & knowing misconduct" that "rises to the level of malice." Boehner said the payment could total about $600,000.
McDermott is challenging the ruling in a federal appeals court.
Responding to a complaint filed by Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, Hefley & Mollohan said the subcommittee would consider whether "McDermott's conduct violated the House Code of Official conduct," which requires members to conduct themselves "at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives."
The investigative panel also will consider whether McDermott ran afoul of a government ethics code, & committee rules barring improper disclosures & protecting confidential information.
Rep. Judy Biggert, R-IL, will head the panel. Other members are Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA; Phil English, R-PA, & Robert Scott, D-VA. The subcommittee will report its findings to the full ethics panel, officially the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Bob Graham's Social Security Plan

In Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Graham offers a 'critique' of President Bush's plan to add private accounts to Social Security. Suffice it to say that it's full of the usual Democratic mantra. Here's the Dems' 3 principal talking points on Social Security reform.
1. The strength of the current Social Security program is that it gives workers a guaranteed, inflation-protected retirement income for as long as they live. No one gets rich from Social Security, the average monthly benefit per Floridian is $900. But for many Americans, it serves as their principal protection from poverty. This is particularly true for the nearly 7-million Americans who receive benefits much earlier than retirement as a result of becoming disabled.
Yes, Social Security is paid to people who haven't reached retirement age, it isn't true that these payments are for a person's retirement. Some of these benefits are paid to widows while other money is paid to those who are permanently disabled. Sen. Graham would have you believe that 7 million people currently receive Social Security benefits early as their retirement payments. Clearly, this is throwing out a large number as a scare tactic.
2. The president's proposal raises three concerns. First, it increases the uncertainty that workers face as they plan for their retirement. Most Americans now retire to a chair that has three legs: an employer-provided pension, personal savings & Social Security. The potential for higher retirement income that proponents of privatization herald comes with significantly greater risk.
This is in addition to the increased risk that workers bear when employers shift from traditional pension plans to defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. Under defined contribution plans, employers commit only to contribute a set amount into a worker's retirement account. Typically, a substantial amount of the worker's personal savings are committed to matching or supplementing the employer's contribution. Whether these funds accumulate to an amount that will provide an adequate income in retirement is up to the worker's investment acumen. Now the president believes that workers should shoulder this risk as part of Social Security as well. Those who elect for individual accounts will have all three of the legs dependent on their skill & luck & the market's swings. This violates a fundamental rule of investment: diversify, diversify, diversify.
Clearly Sen. Graham doesn't have a clue as to how this 'chair' works. First of all, the chair most often consists of, at least at many places, FOUR LEGS, not three, with the 'legs' being personal savings, a 401 (k), a pension from the company & Social Security.
Furthermore, the comment that "potential for higher retirement income that proponents herald" doesn't come with unacceptable risks. Most workers have seen strong returns on their 401 (k)'s have given them. In this reformed Social Security plan, the government would offer only solid, low-risk options for the private accounts. I'd be surprised if they offered anything considered high risk. Also, it makes sense that the plan might be restricted to more risk-free the closer a person gets to retiring.
As for Sen. Graham's comment that those who elect the private accounts "will have all three of their legs dependant on their skill, luck & market swings" is purely meant as a scare tactic & isn't based in fact, just theory. Theoretically, though, people who leave their money in index funds for 30+ years will see a greater return on their investments.
3. In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton proposed saving Social Security first. There was wisdom in that statement. This led to budget surpluses, a booming economy and the opportunity to pay off America's public debt. President Bush rejected that opportunity, he opted for tax cuts for the rich first.
Finally, you knew this was coming. No Democrat's criticism is complete without muttering the mantra of "tax cuts for the rich." Thank God that Sen. Graham is soon to be retired & we won't have to listen to his nonsense anymore.

New GOP Senators May Back Filibuster Limits

New GOP Senators May Back Filibuster Limits
Dec. 27, 2004
By Nick Anderson
Times Staff Writer
Amid talk about a renewal of bipartisanship in the new Congress that convenes next week, two new Republican senators said Sunday that they could support a rule change to short-circuit opposition to President Bush's judicial nominees, a move that one incoming Senate Democrat warned would spark "a bloody fight."
The exchange among the three newly elected senators on CBS' "Face the Nation" reflected a sense among many Republicans that they should flex their muscle in the 109th Congress, with the party's expanded majorities in the Senate & House, even as Democrats were debating among themselves when to work with the administration & when to oppose it.
Sen.-elect John Thune (R-S.D.) said he wanted to put an end to the Democratic tactic of filibustering high-profile judicial nominees, which involves essentially talking nominations to death without allowing an up or down confirmation vote.
Senate Republican leaders, bolstered by the party's Nov. 2 victories, are weighing a move to deny Democrats the right to filibuster judicial nominees indefinitely in the coming Congress. The issue is especially sensitive since Bush's announcement last week that he would renominate seven people for appellate courts who were stymied by filibusters during the last Congress, & in light of the possibility of upcoming Supreme Court vacancies.
"I'm open to supporting that kind of a rule change where judges are concerned," Thune said. He acknowledged that it would be "somewhat controversial, & everybody would argue, & certainly the minority would argue against that."
Sen.-elect Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), appearing with Thune, said he too would seek to end "apparent obstruction" by Democrats. "I think if it continues, then we have to look at those rules & some of the precedents that exist to move these appointments to the floor & have them debated for confirmation," Isakson said.
But Sen.-elect Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) said a Republican bid for a rule change would poison the atmosphere of the Senate just when Bush was seeking to move a second-term agenda.
"I think it's going to be a bloody fight," Salazar said on the CBS show, "& I'd hope that it can be avoided, & I'd ask my colleagues to try to avoid that in the U.S. Senate. I think that the best thing to do is for the president to have consultation both with Republicans & with Democrats prior to making the appointments."
Under Senate rules, a minority of at least 41 senators can uphold a filibuster indefinitely. It takes 60 votes to shut off debate and force final action on nominations or legislation.
Thune, Isakson & Salazar were interviewed nine days before they were scheduled to be sworn into six-year terms. They'll be joined by six other newcomers in the Senate, most of them Republican. Thune, of South Dakota, toppled Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as the Republicans scored a net gain of four seats in the chamber.
In the new Congress, Republicans will control 55 Senate seats & Democrats 44, with one independent who leans toward the Democrats. In the House, Republicans will have a 232-202 majority, also with one independent who leans Democratic. The House GOP majority will be three seats larger than it was during the last session.
Thune said the election results meant that any legislation to reform Social Security, Bush is advocating a partial privatization of the government pension system, would come from "the center-right side of the political spectrum." He added: "But that isn't to say that there can't be a…moving to the middle…It's important that Congress, the administration, while we have this window of opportunity just after an election, work across party lines in a bipartisan way to try and accomplish some reforms in Social Security."
One prominent House Democrat, Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, echoed the call for bipartisanship. "You can't find a Democratic or Republican solution to the problem of Social Security," Rangel, his party's ranking member on the House Ways & Means Committee, told CNN's "Late Edition." "Nor can you simplify the tax code unless there's some unity." Rangel said presidential outreach was key & that Democrats would be waiting for specifics.
Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), appearing with Rangel, praised the Democrat's comment. "We're beginning a new Congress," said Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee. "The president is beginning his new term, and in light of that, we want to come together."
But a pair of outgoing Senate veterans, on NBC's "Meet the Press," warned that bipartisanship was easier to embrace than to achieve. Daschle, Thune's defeated foe, said he was struck by the fact that several Republican senators who telephoned after the election to offer condolences on his loss insisted that their names not be made public.
"It was nice of them to call," said Daschle, who served 18 years in the Senate. "I just felt sorry for them that they felt somehow as if they had to ask me to keep this conversation private. I think that it was yet another, probably the final illustration of how in some ways the town can be too mean."
Sen. Don Nickles, (R-Okla.), who's retiring after four terms, said: "It's gotten too partisan, & there's no doubt, & hopefully it'll change back." Nickles, noting that he'd witnessed five switches of party control during his tenure, warned that Republicans could find themselves in the minority in the future. "So people need to remember that, and they need to get along," he said.
Nickles lamented the proliferation of partisan clashes on routine Senate business. "We shouldn't be filibustering every bill, nor significant appointments," he said. "That undermines some of the collegial atmosphere in the Senate. But we need to work together more."
Talk about hubris. Warning Republicans to not following the Constitution is the height of hubris. Everyone that knows anything about the Constitution knows that it specificallly calls for a simple majority rule in confirming judges. If the Founding Fathers meant for it to take a supermajority, they wouldn't have called it advise & consent.
Furthermore, it's obvious that if a supermajority was needed in confirming judges, they would've said so, like they did in passing Consitutional amendments.
What I'd like to see agreed upon for approving judicial nominees is like the agreement that budget debates can't be fillibustered. That'd be totally fair for both sides & it'd return some proper limits to the upcoming nomination debates.

Choosing Sides in Iraq
Choosing Sides in Iraq
From the January 3/January 10, 2005 issue: Now where do we stand in that fight? We stand on the side of the democrats against the terrorists.
by Tony Blair, for the Editors
THE DANGER that people feel here is coming from terrorists & insurgents who are trying to destroy the possibility of this country becoming a democracy. Now where do we stand in that fight? We stand on the side of the democrats against the terrorists. And so when people say to me, "Well, look at the difficulties, look at the challenges," I say, "Well, what's the source of that challenge?" The source of that challenge is a wicked, destructive attempt to stop this man, this lady, all these people from Iraq, who want to decide their own future in a democratic way, having that opportunity....
I feel a great sense of honor & also humility at being here, & I would like to thank [Prime Minister Allawi] for your leadership & the immense courage that you & your colleagues have shown.
I've just visited members of the electoral commission & met some of their staff, & I said to them that I thought that they were the heroes of the new Iraq that's being created, because here are people who are risking their lives every day in order to make sure that the people of Iraq get a chance to decide their own destiny democratically.
And I'd just like to say this very strongly to the outside world: Whatever people's feelings or beliefs about the removal of Saddam Hussein & the wisdom of that, there surely is only one side to be on in what is now very clearly a battle between democracy & terror.
On the one side you have people who desperately want to make the democratic process work, & want to have the same type of democratic freedoms other parts of the world enjoy, & on the other side people who are killing & intimidating & trying to destroy a better future for Iraq....
I've nothing but admiration for you & for your colleagues & everyone here, whether from the international community or Iraqis who are trying to make this country better, & you deserve our praise & our support & also our gratitude because you're striking an important blow for democracy everywhere....
When I meet the people working alongside the U.N., Iraqis in fear of their life every day, because they’re trying to bring freedom & democracy to their people, when I see their courage & their determination and know that they speak for the vast majority of people in Iraq who want that democracy & freedom, then I know that we are doing the right thing....
And I will also say this to you: There are people dying in Iraq, but the reason people are dying is because of the terrorism & the intimidation & the people who are deliberately killing anyone trying to make this country better.
Now what should our response be as an international community? Our response should be to stand alongside the democrats, the people who've got the courage to see this thing through, & help them see it through. I've got no doubt at all that that is the right thing for us to do....
And I think that everyone understands that obviously there will be violence that’ll continue even after an election. On the other hand, we will then have a very clear expression of democratic will.

And what’s interesting to me was talking to the U.N. officials here who were first of all absolutely committed to the electoral process & secondly said to me in the strongest terms that all the work they were doing in every part of the Iraqi community indicated people actually do want to participate. There’s intimidation in certain areas but no shortage whatever of people's desire to participate in democratic elections....
Sometimes when I see some of the reporting of what's happening in Iraq in the rest of the world, I just feel that people should understand how precious what’s been created here is. And those people from that electoral commission that I described as the heroes of the new Iraq, every day...a lot of them aren't living in the Green Zone, they've got to travel in from outside. They don’t know, at any point in time whether they're going to be subject to brutality or intimidation, even death, & yet they carry on doing it. Now what a magnificent example of the human spirit, that's the side we should be on.
--Tony Blair, for the Editors
Americans & Iraqis are fortunate to have such a talented advocate of freedom as Tony Blair. He's a terrific communicator & a steadfast ally. Here's a tip of the hat to all leaders who've 'bought into' the democracy dreams of Allawi, Blair & Bush.

From Le Sabot Post-Moderne & TulipGirl

Our friends at Le Sabot Post-Moderne, found at, have a couple interesting comments on the Ukrainian election. Here they are:
Known by One’s Friends
The “president” of Kyrgyzstan has warned the West not to support any similar democratic revolution in his country during the upcoming elections in October.
Meanwhile, the strongman “president” of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, has called on the world community to denounce the Orange Revolution. He needs to give his PR team a bonus, this is undoubtedly a brilliant strategy which will find a HUGE positive response in influential places like Syria, Turkmenistan & Lower West Wagadoogoo.
Money quote: “It is unacceptable to use democracy to take over power...” He thinks we should follow his preferred method, I suppose, big guns.
The CIS is thus far not recognizing the legitimacy of the Ukrainian elections. This contrasts a bit with Putin’s instantaneous, multiple congratulations of Yanukovych after the second round of voting.
Also, four democracy activists were arrested yesterday in Belarus for wearing orange ribbons. One of them is still in custody.
Virtually the only factions to have supported Yanukovych’s attempted power grab were China, the Stan Brothers of Central Asia, Putin, Yanukovych’s mother & the occasional horse’s ass like Jonathan Steele.
You can tell a lot about a person by the friends he keeps.
Waving the bloody shirt
Even if Yanukovych doesn’t go to court over his alleged 4 million disenfranchised voters, he’s going to wave that bloody shirt for the next few years. His party line will be that he won, and that the election was stolen from him. This provides multiple benefits:
1. He can pose as the “people’s president” for his base.
2. It exacerbates the sense of grievance of his base supporters.
3. It increases tensions between east and west.
So long as he doesn’t grow a Unabomber beard and start teaching classes at Columbia, there isn’t a down-side to this thing.
UPDATE: Just noticed that Yanu is indeed taking the election results to the Supreme Court. I'll amend the opening paragraph, even if he fails in court, he's going to wave the bloody shirt for a long time.
Talk about being a sore loser. He must know that his case can't be taken seriously. Still, 'Yanu' persists in filing this lawsuit. There's a rock song that perfectly describes what I'd say to him "Don't Go Away Mad, Just Go Away." It's time for 'Yanu' to exit stage right.
UPDATE: Here's a link from TulipGirl's website of the celebration from Independance Square:
Sidenote: I just started checking out blogs this year when there was talk about Dean's connection to them. I thought that there might be something important going on. talk about understatement, huh??? Since then, I've been amazed at the impact bloggers have have had on reporting. It truly is revolutionary.

The McGovern Syndrome: Surrender Is Not A Peace

David Horowitz pens a terrific article about the McGovernite influence on the Democratic Party, including his own role in that movement. It's well worth reading. It provides a firsthand history of the 'Peace Movement'.

The McGovern Syndrome: Surrender Is Not A Peace
David Horowitz
Dec. 27, 2004
On Christmas Day former Senator & former presidential candidate George McGovern wrote a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times (& probably many other papers) calling for an American surrender in Iraq. George McGovern hasn’t been in the headlines for three decades & his name consequently may be unfamiliar to many. But no one’s had a greater or more baleful impact on the Democratic Party & its electoral fortunes than this progressive product of the South Dakota plains.

The McGovernite policy is the policy that inspired Howard Dean in this election. It's safe to say that that mindset has had a longlasting negative impact on the Democratic Party. In effect, McGovernite policy shaped Carter's impotent foreign policy, booted out such noteworthy Cold Warriors as Scoop Jackson & now gives rise to the Michael Moore, Wes Clarks & Howard Deans of the wimpy wing of the Democratic Party.

The leftward slide of the Democratic Party, which has made it an uncertain trumpet in matters of war & peace, may be said to have begun with the McGovern presidential campaign of 1972, whose slogan was "American come home," as though America was the problem & not the aggression of the Communist bloc. The McGovern campaign drew in the rank & file of the anti-Vietnam left much as the anti-Cold War Henry Wallace Progressive Party campaign of 1948 & the Howard Dean anti-Iraq campaign of 2004. McGovern himself was a veteran of the Wallace campaign &, virtually all the leaders of the anti-Iraq movement, including most of the Democratic Party leaders who supported it are veterans of the anti-Vietnam campaign.

Calling the Democratic Party "an uncertain trumpet in matters of war & peace" is a perfect explanation for Kerry's dilemma this past presidential election. He couldn't be a hawk because that would alienate his McGovernite/Deaniac supporters but he couldn't be a dove because the vast majority of American voters aren't dovish.

There is, however, a substantial number of passifists/peace activists in Iowa, which really set in motion Kerry's capturing the Democratic presidential nomination.

I’ve lived this history as both spectator & actor. My parents were Communists, & my first political march was a Communist Party May Day parade in 1948 supporting the presidential campaign of Henry Wallace & the Progressive Party against the Cold War, which meant against America's effort to contain Communism & prevent the Stalin regime from expanding its empire into Western Europe. Our change was this: "One, two, three, four, we don't want another war/Five, six, seven, eight, win with Wallace in '48."
This campaign was the seed of the anti-war movement of Vietnam & thus of the political left's influence over the post-Vietnam foreign policy of the Democratic Party. The Wallace campaign marked an exodus of the anti-American left from the Democratic Party; the movement that opposed America's war in Vietnam marked its return.
As a post-graduate student at Berkeley in the early Sixties, I was one of the organizers of the first demonstration against the war in Vietnam. It was 1962 the organizers of this demonstration as of all the major anti-Vietnam demonstrations (& those against the Iraq war as well) was a Marxist & a leftist. The organizers of the movement against the war in Vietnam were activists who thought the Communists were liberating Vietnam in the same way Michael Moore thinks Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is liberating Iraq.

It's amazing to hear Mr. Horowitz pinpoint where the Michael Moore ideology started at but I think that's exactly what he's done. Terrorists are really just misunderstood freedom fighters in Moore's mind, just as the North Vietnamese were freedom fighters for Vietnam. Of course, it's impossible to logically explain how letting a domineering tyrant reign over a sizeable country is considered liberation but that's what Michael Moore & others are trying to do.

In 1968, Tom Hayden & the anti-war left incited a riot at the Democratic Party convention which effectively ended the presidential hopes of the Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey, who was Lyndon Johnson's Vice President was a supporter of the war. This paved the way for George McGovern's failed presidential run against the war in 1972.
The following year, President Nixon signed a truce in Vietnam & withdrew American troops. His goal was "peace with honor," which meant denying a Communist victory in South Vietnam. The truce was an uneasy one depending on a credible American threat to resume hostilities if the Communists violated the truce. Three years earlier, Nixon had signaled an end to the draft & the massive national anti-war demonstrations had drawn to a halt. But a vanguard of activists continued the war against America's support for the anti-Communist war effort in Vietnam. Among them were John Kerry & Jane Fonda & Tom Hayden.
They held a war crimes tribunal, condemning America's role in Vietnam & conducted a campaign to persuade the Democrats in Congress to cut all aid to South Vietnam & Cambodia, thus opening the door for a Communist conquest. When Nixon was forced to resign after Watergate, the Democratic congress cut the aid as their first legislative act. They did this in January 1975. In April, the Cambodian & South Vietnamese regimes fell.
The events that followed this retreat in Indo-China have been all but forgotten by the left, which has never learned the lessons of Vietnam, but instead has invoked the retreat itself as an inspiration & guide for its political opposition to the war in Iraq.

Along with leading Democrats like party chairman Terry McAuliffe, George McGovern called for an American retreat from Iraq even before a government could be established to deny the country to the Saddamist remnants & Islamic terrorists: "I didn’t want any Americans to risk their lives in Iraq. We should bring home those who are there."

Explained McGovern: "Once we left Vietnam & quit bombing its people they became friends & trading partners." (L.A. Times, December 25, 2004)

Talk about revisionist history. That isn't just inaccurate, it's delusional & devoid of a factual basis. McGovern makes it sound like a friendly relationship & normalized trade relations were established within days of the sessation of bombing in Vietnam. That isn't delusional, it's an outright lie.

Actually that isn’t what happened. Four months after the Democrats cut off aid to Cambodia & Vietnam in January 1975, both regimes fell to the Communist armies. Within three years the Communist victors had slaughtered two & a half million peasants in the Indo-Chinese peninsula, paving the way for their socialist paradise. The blood of those victims is on the hands of the Americans who forced this withdrawal, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean & George McGovern, & anti-war activists like myself.

Admitting to part of blame isn't commonplace but it's the right thing to do. The massacre of the Vietnamese & Cambodians that followed should be viewed as a shameful part of the Democratic Party's history but it isn't. Instead, it's a rallying cry for many influential people in the current Democratic Party.

It’s true that Vietnam eventually became a trading partner ("friend" is another matter). But this wasn’t "once we left & quit bombing its people." Before that took place, a Republican President confronted the Soviet Union in Europe & Afghanistan & forced the collapse of the Soviet empire. It was only then, after the Cold War enemy & support of the Vietnamese Communists had been defeated that they accommodated themselves to co-existence with the U.S.
The "blame America first" mentality so manifest in this McGovern statement is endemic to the appeasement mentality that the progressive Senator so typifies: "Iraq has been nestled along the Tigris & Euphrates for 6,000 years. It will be there 6,000 more whether we stay or leave, as earlier conquerors learned."

In McGovern's Alice-in-Wonderland universe, Iraq didn’t invade two countries, use chemical weapons on its Kurdish population, attempt to assassinate a U.S. president, spend tens of billions of dollars on banned weapons programs, aid & abet Islamic terrorists bent on destroying the West, & defy 17 U.N. resolutions to disarm itself, open its borders to UN inspectors, & adhere to the terms of the U.N. truce it had signed when its aggression in Kuwait was thwarted.
During the battle over Vietnam policy, thirty years ago, Nixon & supporters of the war effort had warned the anti-war left of the consequences that’d follow if their campaign was successful. If the U.S. were to leave the field of battle & retreat, the Communists would engineer a "bloodbath" of revenge & to complete their revolutionary design. When confronted by these warnings, George McGovern, John Kerry & other anti-Vietnam activists dismissed them out of hand. This was just an attempt to justify an imperialist aggression. Time proved the anti-war activists to be tragically, catastrophically wrong, although they’ve never had the decency to admit it. If the U.S. were to leave the battlefield in Iraq now, before the peace is secured (& thus repeat the earlier retreat), there’d be a bloodbath along the Tigris & Euphrates as well.

Ignoring reality seems to be a 'special skill' to pacifists like McGovern & Kerry. Also, no matter what Kerry did, he couldn't rid himself of the reputation of being on the wrong side of the biggest foreign policy issues of the past quarter century, whether it was his anti-Vietnam war protests or his protesting the installation of Pershing II missiles in Europe or his semi-protest of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The jihadists will slaughter our friends, our allies, & all of the Iraqis who are struggling for their freedom. Given the nature of the terrorist war we’re in, this bloodbath would also flow into the streets of Washington & New York & potentially every American city. The jihadists have sworn to kill us all. People who think America is invulnerable, that America can just leave the field of this battle & there’ll be peace, don’t begin to understand the world we confront.

Talk about a horrible set of options. According to McGovern's advice, we should stick our head in the sand & pretend that we aren't vulnerable to the terrorists' threats & we should pretend that terrorists wouldn't try & retake control of Iraq & we should believe that the brave Iraqi people, many of whom are yearning for true freedom, should be abandoned. If that's the best that the Democratic Party has to offer, then it doesn't have credibility on these matters.

Or if they understand it, they’ve tilted their allegiance to the other side. McGovern's phrase "as earlier conquerors learned," speaks volumes about the perverse moral calculus of the progressive left. To McGovern we’re conquerors, which makes the Zarqawi terrorists "liberators," or as Michael Moore would prefer, "patriots." The left that wants America to throw in the towel in Iraq is hyper-sensitive to questions about its loyalties but at the same time can casually refer to our presence in Iraq as an "invasion & occupation." It wants to use the language of morality but it only wants the standard to apply in one direction. There is no one-dimensional such standard, & a politics of surrender isn’t a politics of peace.

I think it's safe to say that that's the verbiage of lunatics. It's a good thing that President Bush's foreign policy is diametrically opposed to the principles of McGovern & Moore & Dean.